January to August 2019
I am a white, racist woman. I knew that fact before reading the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. What I didn't know was how uncomfortable this book would make me feel!
I am married to an African American man. I thought I had learned a few things over our 38 years of marriage. Now I know I will never "arrive" at being a non-racist.
Before our discussion group got to chapter 11 entitled "White Women's Tears," I had started to cry twice in the group. The book stopped me in my tracks! I felt stuck and unable to move forward.
Thankfully, one woman in the Redeemer Lutheran racial justice group recognized my "stuckness" as a step forward. Now I believe I am ready to develop a personal action plan.
This has been a shocking process for me. I thought I knew a little something.
Confidence came slowly as I formulated concrete things to "do.” As I felt some success in following through, I listened to a podcast where Rev. Dr. Alex Gee interviewed Robin DiAngelo. Listening, I heard that my first two action steps (lunch date & phone call) don't count. One step forward and two steps back.
This is a journey. Learning how I have contributed to racism through the systems and structures in the U.S. has been a challenge! I am learning to tolerate discomfort.
Thank goodness the ELCA is supportive of this journey with the social statement on Race, Ethnicity and Culture. Thank goodness Robin DiAngelo is white and understands this journey. Thank goodness for Christ and forgiveness of sin!
Our society has held it high and defended it fiercely
(at the expense of honest history).
Each body that it uplifts,
As one of many “well earned” gifts,
Has in each eye a corrective lens
Which, not light, but power bends
Toward the wearer that we may see
Anything other than the disparities.
Blind to the safety, advantage, favour I get.
Blind to isolation, otherness, pain I beget,
I close my eyes to listen to my sisters’ stories.
Hold my tongue and let them give their own histories.
The anger and pain take up space.
If I acknowledge it, hot and wet, my own anger runs down my face.
It is uncomfortable, as the tears dislodge
My privilege, the lens that kept me in a fog.
But if I stop, what does that say?
That my current comfort matters more than their pain.
Pastor B. says this idol, too, must fall,
And who more equipped than I to answer that call
To join those who are chipping, piece by piece,
Away the systems and institutions of supremacy.